- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A Columbia man serving a three-year federal prison sentence for sending money to relatives in Iraq, in defiance of U.S. sanctions, has been released to a local halfway house.

Shakir Hamoodi will be eligible to complete his sentence, which ends in April, under home detention if he can show proof of employment and a permanent residence, the Columbia Missourian (https://bit.ly/1w4oido ) reported.

The Iraqi-American was sentenced in May 2012 for sending more than $200,000 to family, friends and charities in Iraq while sanctions were in place between 1994 and 2003. He said his family needed the money for food and health care. Investigators found no proof Hamoodi was aiding the Iraqi government.

The Bureau of Prisons said Hamoodi will not be allowed to return to the family business, a Columbia international grocery store, to meet the requirements for home detention under federal law.

Family and friends have advocated for the release of Hamoodi, who spent much of his sentence in a Kansas federal penitentiary. Supporters have sent letters to newspapers and contributed to a trust fund to support his family. More than 8,000 people have signed a petition started by the family to ask President Barack Obama to commute his sentence.

In 1985, Hamoodi moved to Columbia to pursue a doctorate in nuclear engineering and worked in the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering before opening World Harvest Foods in 2003. He started sending money to his family after they told him they couldn’t afford the cost of medical care.

Federal investigators began looking into the matter in 2006. Hamoodi’s lawyers argued throughout his trial that he sent eight sisters, two brothers and his mother money for food, medical costs and other necessities that became expensive because of the U.S. sanctions.

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, https://www.columbiamissourian.com


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